Saturday, July 31, 2010

James Soper was invited to give his popular show "Bending It Like Beckham"It's the month for science again! I'm a big supporter of science education, so I always go to the science fests. This year the biggest annual science event is called the Singapore Science Festival 2010. You may have known it in previous years as the National Science Month (2001-2009, titled Science.01 to Science.09).

X-periment! kicks off the science month with a three-day (30 Jul - 1 Aug) event at Marina Square central atrium. See liquid body armour, slime-making, chromatography, robots, virtual games, and chemical scent and flavour labs among others! I'll get to those in a while...

The chef delivers the food using the wooden oar or paddle
Our first dinner in Hong Kong proved to be one of the best. The Hong Kong Tourism Board arranged for us to dine at Busy Suzie, a Japanese robatayaki restaurant and bar. We were very privileged to have Chef Iwagami Yoshiaki serving our table.

Robatayaki has its origins in Sendai, northeastern Japan, where fishermen would cook their daily catch over an open fire using little more than their wooden oars. They would loudly announce when the food was cooked, and pass it using the oar to their customers. Those were makeshift beach restaurants, but Busy Suzie is a really hip and high-end interpretation of this.


The 1881 Heritage is majestic
Busy Suzie is located at Tsim Sha Tsui's 1881 Heritage, the historic Marine Police headquarters that's been transformed into a magnificent hotel-shopping-exhibition complex. It's stunningly beautiful at night.

The restaurant resides in the former lighthouse building where Hong Kong's typhoon warning signals were raised. The circular nature of the building really suits the restaurant. There's a terrace around it with white leather loungers for al fresco dining, and inside, the long curved robata counters ensconce hidden dining rooms.


Busy Suzie's stylish private dining room
Photo courtesy of Busy Suzie
Interior design is by French married duo Patrick Gilles and Dorothee Boissier (previously lead designers under Phillipe Stark). Lots of dark wood, bamboo walls and white paper lanterns by Isometrix. This is the private dining room that seats 12.

Founder Gilbert Yeung who also owns the dragon-i nightclub intended for Busy Suzie to be a stylish and fun place to put diners in an uplifted mood before a night out on the town.


The restaurant's main dining area is a circular ring, and the chefs kneel elevated before the grill
Busy Suzie's chefs are all brought in from Japan. It's really hard work for the chefs, who kneel constantly on an elevated stage. They do all their work there - skewer items, bend over the grill to cook, and then plate each dish before finally serving it to diners via the wooden oar.

In front of them lie the ingredients ready to be used. Busy Suzie seeks to have the finest and freshest ingredients flown in daily from many parts of Japan. Let me show you what some of these are.


Hokkaido Crab
There's Hokkaido Crab...


Bounty of the sea - Kinki fish, abalone, crab, whelks and conches
Bounty of the sea - Kinki fish, abalone, crab, whelks and conches...


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Yee Shun Milk Company
After my failed dim sum hunt, I continued on to the next target on my eating list. Yee Shun Milk Company at 513 Nathan Road. This is a must-try for people who like steamed milk desserts. I had several people recommending me this.


Steamed milk with ginger juice, cold
I realise I have actually eaten here on previous trips. This time I opted for the steamed milk with ginger juice (about HK$22), the cold version. It was blessed relief after traipsing around in the summer heat! Smooth and weightless, this milk pudding was even lighter than beancurd. The sweetness and ginger flavour is much more subtle in the cold version.


Double skin milk pudding with lotus seeds, warm
I could not resist a second bowl. The "double skin" milk puddings are their signature. I took one with lotus seeds (HK$25), a hot one this time. It's even smoother, and the sweetness comes through much more in the hot pudding than the cold one. There's a very thin film of "skin" on top that's barely there.

View from my hotel room, overlooking Kowloon Park
I really did not want to leave my comfy hotel room after we checked in. Look at the view from my window. That's Kowloon Park, so serene and peaceful amidst the heckling bustle of Tsim Sha Tsui. Just made me want to relax some more. But it seemed equally criminal not to make full use of our time exploring Hong Kong, and we had a few hours before dinner. Plus, I hadn't had lunch, although the delicious lychees from the hotel was fuel enough for the time being.

So off I went to look for Tim Ho Wan, the hole-in-the-wall dim sum joint with a one Michelin star rating. It's near Yau Ma Tei, just 3 MTR stops away. The hotel is just two blocks away from the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR, so travelling was really easy.


Mongkok / Yau Ma Tei vicinity
I got off at Yau Ma Tei station and walked according to the map.

But I could not find it! Hey, how difficult can it be? Just look for the swarming hordes and long queues outside that famous green-worded signboard. Right? If I can find all my eating locations in Japan despite their weird address system, I should be able to find this.


I got the right street, but was distracted by the gun shops
I certainly got the street right, but there was no busy dim sum joint. Were they closed? OK, to be honest, I was probably distracted by the gun replica shops opposite. Man, these look almost real!

Oh well. I was really tired anyway, so I gave up. And given the mixed reviews on Openrice, maybe not finding Tim Ho Wan was a blessing in disguise. *sniff*  So I tell myself.

I walked around looking for an alternative lunch, taking in the busy sights of Mongkok, when suddenly I was hit by a horrific stench. Oh man, did a rubbish truck overturn nearby? Or did something die hidden somewhere it could not be removed?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The bloggers reach HKIA!
OK here we go with my Hong Kong post series! This rowdy bunch touched down at noon last Friday, ready to begin our four days of fun. Let me first do a quick intro of the Singapore Blog Award 2010 winners who came for the trip hosted by the Hong Kong Tourism Board. From left to right - Violet, Geck Geck, Gin, Pete, Darren, me, Lawrence, Sze Ping and Jerome. Elaine joined us the second day. Photo taken by Alvin of omy.sg, I think? I borrowed it from our HK Travellers Facebook page.


I love flying!
We did not come in this, of course.


Bright and early 8am flight on CX
We had a nice and very smooth flight on Cathay Pacific. Had to be bright and early at the airport - none of us got much sleep the night before, and some were still on Facebook excitedly saying, "see you in a few hours!"

But tired as I was, I could not sleep on the plane. Watched "How to Train Your Dragon" plus an episode of Scrubs or so.


Omelette breakfast set on Cathay Pacific
Breakfast omelette that was not too bad. The alternative was congee, and I just had a hunch this would be better.


The Mira is at 118 Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui
We soon arrived at The Mira (118 Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui), ranked among "Coolest New Hotels in the World" by Conde Nast Traveller. Love the vintage London cab parked out front with the licence plate "The Mira" - I hear it actually runs!

The hotel is named after a giant red star in the Cetus constellation. Mira also means "foresight" in Spanish and "perfect, peaceful and prosperous" in Latin. And by chance, my World of Warcraft main character is called Miraviel, and gamers there would always call me Mira.

Anticipation was high as most of us had seen its website which shows a really posh, stylish and modern hotel. Would the photos match what we would see?



The Mira is beautiful!
Oh yes! Pretty much. The dark glass doors belie a spacious entrance with wavy designer accents. Everything here looks new - it was renovated last year and reopened in Sept 2009.

While processing our group check-in in the privacy of the Room One lounge, we were treated to creamy cones
They ushered us to a secluded lounge area to process our check-in papers, and served us little cones of flavoured whipped cream, along with cold hand towels to help us freshen up.


Rooms are the epitome of contemporary chic, complete with original Arne Jacobsen egg chairs
The rooms are the epitome of contemporary chic, complete with original Arne Jacobsen egg chairs. Yes!


Sleek, modern and high tech
The hotel prides itself on being high tech - so at your work desk you have an array of gadgets including an all-in-one infotainment centre, and Bose speakers with iPod dock (it charges my iPhone too).


Every room has a Sony VAIO all-in-one computer and infotainment centre
This is the all-in-one Sony Entertainment Centre, Blu-ray DVD player, and personal computer. You can surf, email, go on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, anything online using the huge screen TV as your monitor. Best of all - with the wireless keyboard, you can do all this from comfort of the luxurious bed.


They give you a mobile phone that's cloned to your hotel room!
They even give you a Nokia mobile phone that's cloned to your room phone - you can take it anywhere with you, and people can reach you by calling your room! That is freaking amazing. This feature is so new, most of us didn't realise it until the second day when Violet demonstrated it to us at lunch.

But wait, the geek in me in getting ahead of one of the most welcoming features.


A boatload of sweet lychees, strawberries and trio of desserts greeted us in the room. We all felt so pampered!
A boatload of fresh, juicy sweet lychees, strawberries and trio of desserts greeted us in the room. We all felt so pampered! Surprise and delight the customer? Check!


The macarons (lemon and green tea respectively) are scrumptious!
I really liked the macarons (lemon and green tea respectively) too. Sweet but not sickeningly so, as some macarons tend to be.


Open the desk drawer in front of the TV!
Full set of cutlery and plates, some minibar snacks and drinks all loaded in the drawer in front of the TV.


Glass bathroom partitions not only tease, but make the room look even bigger
The room is really spacious by Hong Kong standards. The glass partitions between bedroom and bathroom adds an air of openness in more ways than one.


You can have the glass partitions shuttered for privacy as well
But of course, you can also have the silver shutters down for privacy if you wish. There are even controls for mood lighting, and a TV (I haven't quite figured out where it is, but I'm not one to find TV useful in a bath).


Rainbath!
Rainbath! Nuff said!


Salvatore Ferragamo bath goodies!
The pampering continues via Salvatore Ferragamo "Tuscan Soul" bath goodies. These smell so divine!


Gorgeous mirrored vanity area - I learned too late that the top actually slides to cover the sink!
Gorgeous mirrored vanity area - I learned too late that the top where the supplies are actually slides to cover the sink! So you and your partner can share the grooming space if need be. Nice touch!


Luxury bathrobes - silky soft on the outside, and absorbent terry cotton on the inside
Loved the bathrobes - silky soft on the outside, and absorbent terry cotton on the inside. Wear them inside out if you prefer!

Oh yes, forgot to mention the award-winning MiraSpa, an 18,000 square feet haven with indoor infinity-edge pool and fitness centre.


Chili truffle
And in the early evenings, they give you a chocolate truffle as part of the turn-down service. The first night we had a black truffle (as in Périgord) flavoured chocolate truffle. I'd been wondering when someone would make something like that. Mushrooms and chocolate? It's a little odd, and not everyone likes it, but I do think it works. The second night we had chili truffles and the third night, vanilla (very white chocolate-like) ones.


Look who snuck along for the ride!
Look who snuck along for the ride? Hubby insisted Yoda come along for company. Well, I did leave for Hong Kong on his birthday, and it was just too bad he couldn't come along and ENJOY THIS STUNNING SETUP!

Oh well. OK, food posts will start after this. After my CNNgo deadlines (tomorrow!).

Can I just show you the luscious lychees again? These became my lunch. We were all describing how they spurt with juice each time you bite into them! It's unforgiveable unthinkable to leave these untouched!

Can I show you the luscious lychees again?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Happy birthday, Nadine!
Happy 4th birthday, Nadine! And happy birthday to hubby too! I still find it miraculous that both of you share the same birthday.  You are, and always will be, your daddy's best birthday present!

I leave for Hong Kong with a slightly heavy heart today, but we're all quite happy to celebrate the birthdays a day earlier. Nadine got her favourite foods - chicken wings, pasta and ice cream. I gave hubby the eeePC Touch that I won at the Singapore Blog Awards. It's a pretty zippy machine, he says.


Toy Story 3 train block set!
Lots of presents! Toy Story 3 train set we got her and Jolie on behalf of grandma. Both of them love trains.


Jolie with Yoda and Jawa
Jolie also got some toys, just so she doesn't feel left out. She finds out that plush Yoda does not have levitation skills.


Jolie and her R2-D2 backpack
We could not resist getting Nadine this R2-D2 backpack, but it seems Jolie likes it more! Oh heck, I want it, even if no one else does! Maybe I can use it as my next camera bag, haha - it sure has plenty of padding!


What's this?
And what's this?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

As a food blogger, I love to plan my holidays and trips around food. I did that for Japan in 2007 and now I have a chance to do that for Hong Kong! I am leaving tomorrow morning for Hong Kong with the rest of the Singapore Blog Award 2010 winners (by the way, you can win a trip to Hong Kong too).

However, I am not that familiar with Hong Kong eateries as my last trip was like ten years ago, or so it feels! I do know I want to try the legendary Mak's Noodles and Kau Kee's beef brisket noodles. Would love to squeeze in some good old dim sum - should I brave the queues at Tim Ho Wan (awarded one Michelin star!), Lin Heung or Fu Sing? Or should I head for luxury dim sum at Lung King Heen (Four Seasons Hotel) or Golden Leaf (Conrad Hotel)? What about that Bo Innovation - molecular gastronomy, Asian style?

Twin room
Don't feel like getting out of the country but want a beachside holiday this long National Day weekend? The Grand Mercure Roxy Hotel near the East Coast is offering a special weekend staycation deal to celebrate Singapore's 45th birthday. It's great for couples or families. A one-night stay (S$148++) on a Friday, Saturday or Public Holiday in a Superior Room (single/twin) comes with breakfast and a bag of goodies for the kids. It's valid from now til 15 August 2010, but you must book five days ahead.

The hotel kindly invited us to experience the package, so here's what the rooms look like. My family and I do like the Grand Mercure Roxy since its refurbishment some years back, because it's clean and comfy. Service is also always very prompt and pleasant. You may also have seen photos from when we stayed here last year.


These two instantly plopped themselves onto the bed
As usual, the girls instantly plopped themselves onto the comfy beds and refused to budge for a while. They don't even do this at home!


Welcome nibbles - the macaron is very nice!
Welcome nibbles along with traditional pot of tea. The macaron is really nice! So soft, fragrant and delicate. I must find out if they are for sale somewhere in the hotel.


Special goodies for the kids!
Here are the special goodies for the kids, but I'm pretty sure adults would relish them just the same!


Lunch at Feast@East
Part of our lunch at Feast@East, the buffet restaurant. The durian pengat (upper row, second from left) is one of the best things here - rich with creamy durian pulp. And the laksa is not too bad. We had breakfast here too, as part of the package. Feast@East will feature a National Day Hawker Heaven Food Festival from 6 to 15 August.


Dinner at Jia Wei Cantonese Restaurant
And if you fancy some modern Chinese cuisine, there's Jia Wei restaurant on the second floor. That's where we had dinner. The homemade tofu in the seafood claypot is amazingly tender. And Jolie loved the hot and sour soup - she wouldn't let it go.


Marquees have been set up for an upcoming poolside wedding
You can also check out the food at Roxy Bar. It's a halal dining menu. The place looks great at night - some people even hold weddings here (the marquees are part of that).


Bathrooms are clean and well-equipped
As it was a little rainy, we didn't go to the pool with the kids. But they had fun in the bathtub! The bathrooms are bright, clean and well-equipped. Nadine as usual, had to explore every phone in the vicinity.


I love the revamped look of the toiletries
I love the revamped look of the toiletries - nice use of the M for "Mercure and Me."



Body Contours Spa at Grand Mercure Roxy Hotel
Photos courtesy of Body Contours Spa
Besides a fitness centre, the Grand Mercure Roxy also has a spa housed within. The Body Contours Spa and the hotel have very graciously extended me a promotion for you guys - mention "Camemberu" when you make your staycation booking, and get a free 60-minute spa treatment worth S$200! It's a choice of a Luxe Oriental Massage, Purifying Brilliance Face Spa or Definitive Slim Plus slimming session. Some terms and conditions may apply (e.g. they may be closed on public holidays).

So go on, give yourself and your partner/family a treat!


GRAND MERCURE ROXY HOTEL
50 East Coast Road
Roxy Square (opposite Parkway Parade Shopping Centre)
Singapore 428769
Reservations Tel: +65 6344-8000
Fax: +65 6344-8010
Email: H3610-FO16@accor.com

The relaxing end of a day
 
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